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Publisher's Summary

The Brain Trade: Grown in crèches and programmed with a tribal warrior code, the minds of children are harvested by the black market. Sold to the highest bidder, they're installed in deadly combat machines and assassin chassis.

Griffin, a junior Investigations agent for the North American Trade Union, is put on the case: Find and close the illegal crèches. Installed in a combat chassis, Abdul, a depressed 17-year-old killed during the Secession Wars in Old Montreal, is assigned as Griffin's Heavy Weapons support. Nadia, a state-sanctioned investigative reporter working the stolen children story, pushes Griffin ever deeper into the nightmare of the brain trade.   

In the La Carpio slums of Costa Rica, the scanned mind of an autistic girl named only 88 runs the South American Mafia's business interests. But 88 wants more. She wants freedom. And she has come to see humanity as a threat. She has an answer: Archaeidae. He died when he was eight. At 14, a six-gun slinging, katana-wielding machine of death, he is the deadliest assassin alive.  

Two children against the world. The world is going to need some help.

©2017 Michael R. Fletcher (P)2018 Michael R. Fletcher

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Solid Sci-Fi with dark and dusky overtones

Ghosts of Tomorrow was not something that I expected. looking at that awesome cover I thought it was just going to be a dystopian battle book, but this novel goes a lot deeper than the superficial romp I was expecting. Seriously, this is deep, dark, and disturbing because you know that if the science put forth here were possible then this is exactly what would happen, and that makes it terrifying.

The book, as the cover suggest is gutwrenchingly violent, but in a good way! ;P The action is extremely intense and is very well written. If this were a paper novel I would say that it popped off the page, but given that this is Audible I can tell you that the scenes are brutally vivid and as action packed as a Michael Bay movie that was written by Shakepeare. The plot is sinister, children are having their brains/minds stolen for corporate use, because children's minds work better than adults in the process they use to create processors.

One thing that I loved about this book is the utter lack of mercy when it came to characters. You think GRR Martin is tough? There are characters who show up and die in the same chapter, and just like in real life there is no rhyme nor reason to it other than that's the way it goes. Everything happens for a reason, i.e. is central to the plot, and deaths are not just toss aways. This is a cyberpunk tale set in a dystopian society, so don't look for rainbows, unicorns, and sunshine. The story is unrelenting and moves forward like a shark in search of prey.

Watkinson's narration took a little to get used too. She is most certainly British, but when she speaks she almost comes across as angry, cross, or upset. It was hard for me to tell, but she has a strange cadence and emphasizes words I would not have accentuated. Granted, once you listen to her you can go along for the ride, and I just wrote it off as "future Speech", but it took me some time to settle in to her style.

The book is very well written, with a wonky narration style, but it is well worth the time and money you'll be putting into it. It is deep, and will you thinking about things you have never considered before. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • C.T.
  • Ashland, Ky USA
  • 07-24-18

Best cyberpunk I've read since Snow Crash


Snow Crash was an affectionate parody of cyberpunk's excesses with a black samurai pizza boy who worked for the Italian mob and a 15-year-old Fedex girl with a sedative-equipped chastity belt. Ghosts of Tomororw, by contrast, embraces every one of the excesses of Neil Stephenson's book but manages to present them in a horrifying as well as tragic light. Many of the murderous cyborg killers in this book act like hyperactive overstimulated video-game addicted fourteen-year-olds. Which makes sense because they are hyperactive overstimulated video-game addicted fourteen-year-olds. They've just had their brains destroyed to make scans so the easily-indoctrinated child-soldiers can be unleashed on the rest of the world.

The premise is humanity has become addicted to the use of scans as a substitute for still-undeveloped artificial intelligence. Scans are a process where a human brain is destroyed but their personality and intelligence is copied onto an electronic format. They're much faster than regular humans in piloting, managing business assets, and even serving as assassins but the demand for them is overwhelming. This has resulted in the mob and other organized crime syndicates start trafficking children to be killed in their preteen years by the thousands, providing society with the scans they don't question the origin of.

Thankfully, not everyone is a monstrous psychopath and a few individuals are trying to curb the rampant child-murder. Griffin is a NATU (North American Trade Union) agent working with plucky reporter Nadia and a 17-year-old new combat-chassis-equipped scan named Abdul. Griffin failed in his first attempt to shut down a child slavery ring and has resolved to never do so again, no matter how much collateral damage gets in his way. Abdul is a man who "died" thanks to a spider-mine and has taken what form of survival he could but is going rapidly insane from the sensory deprivation his new life entails. Naida? Naida regurgitates the party line even though it's complete nonsense. These are the "good guys" on the case.

The bad guys are Riina, a mid-level mafia boss who has murdered and scanned thousands of children with the belief he's doing the impoverished children of Third World Nations a favor. 88 is an autistic girl murdered as a pre-teen and turned into a digital goddess on the quest for a "mother" she barely remembers. There's Miles Lorkner, a billionaire who believes scans are the future of humanity and thus it's perfectly justified to murder however many people necessary to resolve the world's problems with them. Finally, there's Archaeidae who is the aforementioned fourteen-year-old cowboy spider samurai assassin--and a character so insane that he steals the show every time he's on page.

It's difficult to say what character is my favorite as they're all so vividly realized. I really liked Griffin and Nadia's relationship despite them being the two most normal characters in the book. Abdul's existential angst is entirely justified since he's in a sensory-deprivation tank with the only purpose left to him being murder. 88 is also blissfully tragic and I sympathized with her even as her bodycount approaches five figures. I even liked reading about Lorkner's psychotic breakdown as it's clear the man envisioned himself as an ubermensch but is incredibly unprepared for life as a scan.

The book is full of action, intrigue, murder, crazy situations, double-crosses, triple crosses, and allegiances shifting constantly. Every character is motivated and three-dimensional but all of them tend toward the extreme because it's an extreme world. However, the saddest part of the book is that it's depiction of thousands of children used up for scans every year is not so different from the same kinds of kids today being used up for other kinds of trafficking. We're not so far removed from the cyber-hell in the book and the only difference is we have less block-destroying battles between cyborgs. Which is a shame.

The narrator does an excellent job but I note I think a male narrator would have done a better job given so many of the parts were men and Rosa's voice sounds distractedly similar to Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Mass Effect). The characters aren't British for the most part as well. Even so, I approve of this book greatly.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great Story!

I received this audio book for free in exchange for my honest review. This is a very entertaining and well written story.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Entertaining

I wasn't sure what to expect from this audiobook and was pleased to find I enjoyed the story. The plot and characters were interesting. It took a couple of chapters to get used to the narrators style, but I soon forgot about that. My only gripe with the audio was the few lines which were repeated. A little extra post production editing would have sorted that out. Overall, I would recommend this audiobook.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Awesome

This is an awesome book for any cyberpunk fans out there. The narration and the way the characters are written that no matter what they do you root for them

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Amazing dystopian science fiction

Brilliantly narrated - this is a complex story told from many viewpoints - the action never lets up. In the near future, brains are hardwired into computers - usually you sign your brain away on your deathbed when you die of old age, but there is more demand than supply and a black market has sprung up that uses the brains of children. The place the children are held and their brains culled are called crèches. Griffin, a junior Investigations agent for the North American Trade Union, is put on the case: Find and close the illegal crèches. No one really expects him to succeed. Meanwhile, the harnessed mind of an autistic girl is being used by the mafia - but she dreams of being free, and using the incredible power of the net, she seeks Archaeidae, the worlds most dangerous killer, the mind of a fourteen year old boy trapped in an assassin's chassis. But Archaeidae has no inkling of humanity, and he only obeys his god. When the two join forces, the whole world is suddenly in danger. The narrator was perfect for this dystopian, cyberpunk sci-fi book - I highly reccommend it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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cyberpunk awesomeness

I definitely loved this. I'm usually a die hard sword and sorcerer or space opera fan but I'm really glad I have this a try.

I read another reviewer mention that this book might have been better with a male narrator. I kept that in mind while listening and although 95% of my audiobooks have male narrators, I'd have to politely disagree for a couple of reasons. 1. Watkinson has a voice that can easily do, not only a man's voice but multiple men's voices. 2. There are child characters and she nailed those. Almost creepily as often those child voices were engaged in bloodshed.

The writing is well done and if there are sequels I hope he keeps Watkinson. I love it when a narrator can use a different voice for each character but Watkinson also uses her acting skills on ALL parts of this book. Which is hard to explain unless you listen. I really looked forward to the times I could resume listening

One thing and it's not really a negative but the first short section (1/2 a page of a physical book?) of the audiobook starts with a character talking about his hero worship and it comes of really weird (at least it did to me). Keep listening. The characters really really grow on you.

Very good book. Great narrator.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Hunter
  • 10-29-18

Immensely enjoyable

Really enjoyed this near future techno romp. Likeable characters, interesting ideas. Clearly narrated, even with my usual speeding up to 1.35. I've read 2 other of Michael's books, both of which I enjoyed, but this is my favourite so far.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Bookshelf Builder
  • 10-15-18

Frighteningly conceivable

Given the authors reputation, I thought this might be even grimmer, but I actually warmed to the characters, and their commitment to the fight. Still not for the squeamish, this presents a bleak but believable picture of a future where minds - whole people - can be scanned into the system, doing everything from piloting robotic combat chassis to playing puppet master with he world economy. The plot careers from one disaster to the next, with plenty of action and a fair bit of humour. The narration also won me over, doing a good job with a largely male cast and a lot of technical detail (though there were a few odd pronunciations and a couple repetitions?). Overall a fun - if dark - sci-fi thriller.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • G. P. Brown
  • 08-25-18

Great Dark Sci-Fi!

This was a fantastic cyberpunk story and an excellent dark sci-fi in general. Fletcher has an engaging storytelling style and his take on virtual reality and an emerging post-human world was a fascinating one!

I felt like a big strength for this story was that Fletcher got the tone and balance of the story perfect. The story was very dark at times but never got too depressing!

A memorable fast paced 5 star read for me. Hopefully we get more Fletcher stories in audio soon.

I was not a giant fan of Rosa B. Watkinson's narration. Mostly just because I was not a fan of her accent or character voices. I get that is a subjective thing and others might love both. For me she was passable but nothing special and definitely did not detract from my ability to enjoy the happenings of this story.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • TClews
  • 08-13-18

Sci Fi at its darkest.

The brilliant words of Michael R. Fletcher are brought to life perfectly by R.B Watkinson. I can't recommend this audiobook enough, fantastic.